New England Soccer Today

Breakers Cough Up Lead Late

Photo: Chris Aduama/

Jodi-Ann Robinson’s last gasp equalizer ripped a win away from the Boston Breakers in Wednesday’s 2-2 draw with the Western New York Flash at Dilboy Stadium.

Robinson scored by heading in a cross from the right side of the penalty area by Katherine Reynolds in the 93rd minute. Western New York teammate Abby Wambach opened up the scoring in the 28th minute, while the Breakers countered with strikes from Lianne Sanderson and Sydney Leroux in the 44th and 64th minutes, respectively.

“Tonight was a little bit of a heart breaker,” said Breakers coach Lisa Cole. “I thought we played well enough to win. I thought our back line was tremendous. We did a good job shutting down Abby. Our front play was very good. [Leroux] had a great goal.”

Leroux wasted no time using her speed to spear the Breakers offense early.  In the seventh minute, she took the game’s first chance single-handedly, sprinting the flank before getting into the box and ripping a shot that was headed for the lower right corner off the finger tips of Flash goalkeeper Adrianna Franch.

But it was Wambach, who looked visibly tired after playing with the United States  Women’s National Team against Canada on Sunday, who got the first say when it came to the scoreboard. In the 28th minute, she got on the end of a cross from the right flank by Samantha Kerr, and powered a header past Ashley Phillips for her fifth goal of the season.

“There’s not a whole lot you can do against one of the best headers in the world,” said Breakers defender Cat Whitehill. “You need to block the service. We always want to deny the service, especially on a team with Abby on it.”

The Breakers had bids to tie the game shortly after Wambach’s opener. Katie Schoepfer put a shot just over the crossbar in the 33rd minute,  and Leroux rolled an effort shot inches wide of the far post in the 36th minute.

The third time was a charm in the 44th minute when Lianne Sanderson hit a first-time volley from Heather O’Reilly to score her first goal of the season.

“It was a scrappy goal and I knew I had to it with my right foot to go in,” Sanderson said. “If I had hit it with my left she probably would have stopped it. I think it was good for our confidence, right before the break, to go into the second half the way we did.”

The second half was dominated by sloppy soccer from both sides. Neither team maintained a fluid, offensive flow. Part of the reason was that there were 12 fouls in the second half, which halted the momentum of both teams when they attempted to go forward.

Leroux broke through the choppy play in the 64th minute when she collected a lay-off from the left side of the penalty area from Sanderson before unloading a shot from 18 yards out that beat Franch at the lower left corner.

“You know what Leroux is capable of,” Sanderson said. “Having a player like her on the team, you know there’s going to be a goal from her. Opposing teams are afraid of her. She’s so fast and it’s important to have players like her on the team.”

Leroux had a chance to pad the lead minutes later when Franch was called for a handball well outside of the 18 while trying to launch the ball into the Breakers’ penalty area. The referee called the spot kick and LeRoux took it quickly attempting to catch Franch off her line, but the shot sailed just over the crossbar.

“I heard my teammates scream ‘just go, go, go.’ I just took it and I was a little off, so, whoopsy,” Leroux said. “If I waited and set myself up she would have gotten back into goal, so I just went for it.”

That missed opportunity would come to haunt the Breakers.

In the dying seconds of the game, Reynolds collected a poor clearance on the right side of Boston’s penalty area, and sent it into the box for Robinson, who’s header beat Phillips just before the final three chirps of the whistle.

“It was a bit disappointing conceding at the last second of the game, but I think there’s a lot of positives we can take from this game,” Sanderson said. “It was 110 percent better than our game against Sky Blue (a 5-1 loss Saturday). We weren’t ourselves, and we bounced back great today. I think we showed great character…we can step off the field knowing we tried our hardest.”

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